Have Fun With Your Spouse

You’ve heard the saying, “The family that prays together stays together.” Some people think that all it takes to hold a marriage together nowadays is more religion and church attendance. But I have observed that unless the family that prays together, also plays together, the members may still go astray.

While Harry and I make no pretense of knowing all there is to know about marriage, we have learned from our years together that a couple must basically enjoy one another. We have fallen far short of the ideals that hindsight readily offers, but we thank God for the good times that we've had in being able to mix fun with married life.

We have taken stock during our marriage of the Christian homes that have succeeded and those that have failed. Without exception we have found that the most successful marriages have added the warmth of fun, laughter, and enjoyable experiences to life.

It takes a lot of hard work to make a happy marriage. But I want to emphasize that marriage, in my opinion, is not all hard work, effort, and self-discipline. An integral part of the complete marriage is the ability to enjoy one another, to have fun with one another, to laugh and find delight in one another's presence.

From our earliest years of marriage Harry and I have found time, in spite of hectic schedules, to include in each week an activity that will enrich our married life - camping trips, picnics at a favorite spot in the country, dinners out, an evening of games, a hand-in-hand walk beside the crashing surf, a swim, or a drive.

The result? Our marriage - and to God be the glory - grows happier with each passing year.

We have traveled thousands of miles together on a tight budget. We invested in a new pickup truck and an old but roomy and serviceable camper. With this rig we've camped on deserts, in the mountains, and by lakes and seashores. Some of our most memorable family times have occurred in the fresh breath of nature - a couple enjoying together the magnificent natural beauty that the Lord has provided for His people.

We have tried to interject the aspect of fun into our family worships as well. Instead of solemn occasions where every family member sits stony-faced during the reading of Scripture, we have encouraged creativity. Our worships have resulted in guessing games, 20 questions, pantomimes, musicals, and dramas. Perhaps the most fun of all were the Bible stories acted out by the three children - Carlene directing (because she was the oldest), Rodney obeying willingly (because he was the most adaptable); and Mark dragging his feet (because of his nature). Their reenactments included costumes, scripts, props, and originality.

Harry and I religiously engage in fun activities on a daily basis for our own sake. These activities change with the season and according to the section of the country we live in. But at present they include among other things a morning jog together. This early morning ritual not only provides the exercise we need for better health, but it improves our attitudes, gives us time to communicate, and stimulates a mutual interest. In the cool of the evenings we often bike around the neighborhood or on the new bike path that runs near our home.

Perhaps the most memorable fun activity we engaged in recently was sparked after a family affair seminar. At the close of the meetings, one of the assignments was to think of a creative way to romance one's partner. Harry asked me for a date, and one month later we went to San Francisco with another couple. We lived it up from early morning - beginning with breakfast out as we traveled. (We never eat breakfast out.) We first stopped at Golden Gate Park, where we walked through the botanical gardens. We went on to Seal Rock, where we browsed through shops and toured a fascinating museum of old coin-operated mechanical machines. Oh, yes, we even remembered to look at the seals!

Our next stop was Fort Point, a national historical monument located on the San Francisco Bay directly under the Golden Gate Bridge. Along with our guide, who was costumed in a replica of a Civil War uniform, we explored the soldiers' quarters and gun emplacements, listened to fascinating stories of past history, and even participated in a mock firing of a cannon. A trip to San Francisco would not be complete without a visit to Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, and from there we stopped at Ghiradeli Square, where our dates escorted us to the day's finale - a romantic dinner by candlelight at sunset with a view overlooking the bay.

How about you? Are you fun to live with? Have you brought something into the marriage recently that was interesting, challenging, creative, or delightful? When was the last time you did something alone with your mate just for fun? When was the last time you enjoyed a good laugh together?

Did you know that next to ministers, comedians have the longest-lasting marriages? Why? Perhaps because laughter relieves tension. Generally speaking we don't smile or laugh enough. It's conceded that Richard Nixon lost the election the first time he ran for President because he did not smile enough. During his second presidential campaign, he was rarely seen in a photo or television interview not smiling. Yes, people respond favorably to smiles and laughter.

Department stores have discovered that their sales go up as much as 20 percent when the clerks smile at the customers. Some companies insist that the executives smile as - they walk in the door to begin the day. “A smile sets the tempo for the day,” one president explains. “It determines how the employees will feel during the day. It gives them assurance, makes them feel everything is right within the company. If a company executive walks in the front door with a frown on his face, it gives people the impression something is wrong.”

Laughter is a way of telling others that you are glad to see them, that things are going well, and that it is good to be alive. There may be serious things to consider, but we'll face them pleasantly together. Start with a smile and take it from there.

Laughter is a wonderful tranquilizer for problems. When a couple learns how to laugh and make merry over mistakes, a wonderful transformation takes place in the home. High heaven has special clean-up squads which respond to these signals. They come to sweep away the broken pieces and give that marriage a fresh beginning.

A smile is a way of writing your thoughts on your face. It is a way of telling others that they are appreciated, accepted, and liked. And when you begin smiling, you will find others smiling back. It becomes a way of saying, “Thank you. You are making my day more enjoyable. You make me feel noticed, important, and cared for.”

There is no other gift whereby you can give so much enjoyment as inexpensively as with a smile. The habit of smiling can be a valuable asset when facing situations that might otherwise cause you to sink in discouragement and despair. As Ella Wheeler Wilcox mentions in her poem “Worthwhile”:

'“Tis easy enough to be pleasant, “When life flows along like a song: “But the man worthwhile is the one who will smile “When everything goes dead wrong.”

Make today a happy day for yourself, for your mate, and for your family. Come up with a surprise. Share a funny story. Plan ahead for a special occasion. Attend a class. Go to a new and interesting place or event. Give a gift. Smile. Laugh. Take time to play. Find a way to have fun with your mate. Make your married life as happy and enjoyable as possible.

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